Santa Monica
Traditional Reporting for A Digital Age

The Santa Monica Lookout, Santa Monica, California -- AUgust 2020

Weekly Coronavirus Cases in Santa Monica Hold Steady, As Nationwide Deaths See Record Drop
August 31, 2020 -- Weekly coronavirus cases in Santa Monica remained stable with one additional death, as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported the steepest weekly drop in nationwide deaths since the pandemic began.

EXTRA -- SMRR Backs Incumbents
August 31, 2020 -- Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR) -- the city's most powerful political organization -- backed 11 incumbents in the race for 13 open seats on the City Council and three local Boards at its convention Sunday.

Council Votes to Seek Consultant to Conduct Full Police Probe
August 28, 2020 -- Frustrated by delays, the City Council on Tuesday voted to authorize the quick hiring of a consulting firm to investigate the Police Department's response to the May 31 riots.

Santa Monica Names New Sports Field After Once-Thriving Black Neighborhood
August 28, 2020 -- The new sports field complex at the Santa Monica Civic Center has been named after a Black neighborhood that once occupied the site before City leaders razed it some 75 years ago.

Miramar Redevelopment Headed to Planning Commission
August 27, 2020 -- Eight-and-a-half years after going before the Planning Commission, the Fairmont Miramar Hotel's developer will be back next Wednesday with a very different proposal to redevelop the century old hotel.

Slow-Growth Watchdog Group Asks for Changes to Miramar Hotel Redevelopment
August 27., 2020 -- One week before the Miramar Hotel redevelopment gets its first major hearing, a prominent slow-growth watchdog group announced it is opposing the current proposal.

LETTERS -- Will Crime, Overdevelopment Upset the Santa Monica Status Quo?
August 27, 2020 -- Too often, residents have spoken against overdevelopment, only to be steamrolled by City Hall. Now, a new slate of City Council candidates is running with the express purpose of taking on the City's pro-development establishment.

Santa Monica Council Approves Measures to Spur New Housing
August 26, 2020 -- In an effort to tackle a statewide housing crisis, the City Council on Tuesday barred Santa Monica housing units from being rented for commercial use and fast-tracked new affordable housing Downtown, among other measures.

Santa Monica Accepting Applications for New Senior Building
August 26, 2020 -- The City of Santa Monica is accepting applications for a 38-unit affordable senior building currently under construction in the Pico Neighborhood. Applicants who live or work in Santa Monica will receive priority.

LETTERS -- City's Crackdown on 'Super Spreader' Gatherings Turns Landlords Into Police
August 26, 2020 -- Santa Monica property owners and managers are being forced with our hands tied and watched over by zealous, aggressive local City attorneys to police the actions of our tenants.

Santa Monica Cracks Down on 'Super Spreader' Gatherings
August 25, 2020 -- Santa Monica on Tuesday cracked down on "super spreader" gatherings of more than 20 people, with violators facing fines and having their water shut off.

Santa Monica Man Fined for Organizing Illegal Party in Glendora
August 25, 2020 -- A Santa Monica man arrested last year for running a check forging scam in Thousand Oaks was fined this weekend for organizing an illegal mansion house party in Glendora.

Santa Monica's Weekly Coronavirus Cases Rise After Three-Month Low
August 24, 2020 -- There were 34 new coronavirus cases reported last week in Santa Monica and two new deaths, as the number of hospitalizations across Los Angeles County continued to drop, according to Public Health Department data.

Only Four Council Candidates to Vie for SMRR Endorsement
August 24, 2020 -- Only four of the 15 candidates actively running for a full term on the City Council will seek the backing of Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR) at the powerful group's convention this month.

OPINION -- Why We Decided to Withdraw from the Race for City Council and Support the Pro-Resident Slate
August 24, 2020 -- We withdrew because it became clear that the best way to affect change in Santa Monica was to consolidate the number of candidates challenging the incumbents, write Andrew Browning and Dominic Gomez.

Council Members Push For Police Probe Requested in June
August 21, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday is expected to once again push for an independent review of the police response to the May 31 Santa Monica riots more than two and a half months after voting for a probe.

SMC Planetarium Explores the Fall Equinox and NASA's return to the Moon
August 21, 2020 -- Equinoxes and solstices and NASA's long-awaited return to the moon will be the subject of two virtual shows presented by Santa Monica College’s John Drescher Planetarium next month.

School District Inadvertently Sends Elementary Students Racist Password
August 20, 2020 -- School District officials issued an apology Thursday after learning that 14 elementary school students had received a computer password that could be considered racist. The password is formed by randomly combining a color and an animal.

Changes in SMPD Contracts to Save Nearly $3 Million Over Two Years
August 20, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday is expected to approve contracts covering Police Department employees that will save nearly $3 million over the next two fiscal years "while the world waits for an effective vaccine to COVID-19," according to City staff.

Plaintiffs in Voting Rights Suit Request Supreme Court Hearing
August 19, 2020 -- The Latino plaintiffs in the voting rights lawsuit against Santa Monica asked the California Supreme Court on Tuesday to review an Appeals Court decision last month in favor of the City.

Santa Monica Extends Use of Outdoor Commercial Spaces
August 19, 2020 -- Santa Monica businesses can furnish their outdoor spaces with added features -- including lighting, canopies, flooring and heaters -- after the City extended the use of outdoor commercial spaces Wednesday.

LETTERS -- Local League to Host Candidate Forums, Other Election Resources
August 19, 2020 -- The League of Women Voters of Santa Monica is in the process of planning candidate forums and will be reaching out to all qualified candidates.

City Replaces Ballot Argument Opposing 'Luxury Tax' Measure
August 18, 2000 -- In a highly unusual move, the City on Tuesday replaced the argument opposing a tax measure that will appear on the November ballot.

Weekly Coronavirus Cases Drop to Three-Month Low, Reporting Backlog Could Be Factor
August 18, 2020 -- Last week, Santa Monica marked its lowest weekly number of new coronavirus cases in nearly three months possibly due to a pending backlog of unreported cases.

EXTRA -- Slate Formed to Challenge Council Incumbents
August 17, 2020 -- Four slow-growth candidates have formed a slate to take on the incumbents in the November race for four seats on the Santa Monica City Council, slate members announced Monday.

Santa Monica Artist Who Won Late Recognition Dead at Age 99
August 17, 2020 -- Artist Luchita Hurtado -- who saw a resurgence late in life after a quiet career that spanned seven decades -- died in her Santa Monica home Thursday. She was 99.

Charter Changes Promote Diversity or Lead to Nepotism, Ballot Arguments Say
August 17, 2020 -- A Santa Monica ballot measure that would eliminate rules to fill open positions will either help diversity the City's workforce or lead to "nepotism and cronyism," according to ballot arguments submitted to the City Clerk last week.

Ballot Order Could Be Factor in Local Races, Studies Show
August 14, 2020 -- If being at the top of the ballot gives local candidates an edge, as some studies indicate, then one City Council challenger and three incumbents in the three other Santa Monica races got a boost Thursday.

More than $100,000 Donated for Santa Monica's COVID Relief Efforts
August 14, 2020 -- The City of Santa Monica has received more than $100,000 in donations to fund relief efforts related to the coronavirus emergency, officials reported this week.

Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus Receives More than $24 Million in Federal Funding
August 13, 2020 -- Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus will receive some $24.4 million in federal funding to support service and maintain safety during the coronavirus emergency, the Federal Transit Administration announced Thursday.

Prominent Santa Monica-Based Think Tank Launches Racial Equity Policy Center
August 13, 2020 -- The Santa Monica-based RAND Corporation announced Wednesday that it is launching a center with an initial $1 million in funding to help promote racial equity.

LETTERS -- If the League Believes in Educating Voters, It Should Hold Candidate Debates
August 13, 2020 -- The League of women voter's needs to prove they are serious about voter education by organizing and holding on-line or in person debates or candidate forums with City Council and Rent Control Board candidates.

EXTRA -- Newest Councilmember Unopposed, Four Other Incumbents Face Crowded Ballot
August 12, 2020 -- Newly appointed City Councilmember Kristin McCowan will run unopposed in the race for a two-year seat, while the four other incumbents will face 17 challengers.

One Santa Monica Board Race Features a Comeback Bid, Another An Exit
August 12, 2020 -- A former Santa Monica Rent Control Board Commissioner will seek to make a comeback, while an incumbent's exit leaves a School Board seat wide open on the November ballot.

Santa Monica Issues Ten Citations During Face Mask Crackdown
August 11, 2020 -- Santa Monica issued ten citations and 33 warnings during a "special operation" Thursday to enforce the City's face covering order in public parks and business districts, according to City officials.

Transit Ridership, Vehicle Traffic Dropped Across Region After Pandemic Hit
August 11, 2020 -- Public transit in Santa Monica saw a precipitous drop in ridership in the months following the coronavirus shutdown, mirroring a trend that also saw vehicle traffic nosedive across the congested region.

Weekly Coronavirus Cases Drop in Santa Monica Amid Testing Backlog
August 10, 2020 -- Last week, Santa Monica recorded its lowest number of weekly coronavirus cases since June, although the numbers may have been deflated due to a backlog of testing reports, Los Angeles County health officials said.

One-Third of Americans Failed to Make Housing Payments Again This Month, Survey Finds
August 10, 2020 -- For the fourth straight month, about one-third of Americans failed to make a full housing payment in August, with one in five renters now owing their landlords more than $1,000, according to a nationwide survey.

LETTERS -- Dispelling Common Misconceptions About the League of Women Voters
August 10, 2020 -- We are non-partisan, which means that we do not support or oppose any political candidates or parties. However, we are political and we do advocate for best practices on issues we have studied and come to consensus about.

School Board Member Not to Seek Reelection, Deadline to Run Extended
August 7, 2020 -- School Board member Ralph Mechur did not pull nominating papers to run for re-election, extending until Wednesday the deadline for potential candidates to enter the race for three open seats.

Former Angels PR Director Charged in Skaggs Death
August 7, 2020 -- The former public relations director for the Los Angeles Angels has been charged with distributing the drug that killed pitcher Tyler Skaggs last July.

LETTERS -- Outrageous for League of Women Voters President to Take a Political Position
August 7, 2020 -- For the president of the League to take and publish a political position is outrageous, biased, inappropriate, prejudiced and altogether wrong.

Appeals Court Rejects Petition to Rehear Voting Rights Lawsuit
August 6, 2020 -- The voting rights lawsuit against the City of Santa Monica is headed to the California Supreme Court after an Appeals Court on Wednesday rejected the plaintiffs' petition to rehear the case.

Santa Monica Property Owners to See Lower Tax Bills After School District Refinances Bonds
August 6, 2020 -- Santa Monica and Malibu taxpayers will save more than $6 million after the School District refinanced nearly $75 million in general obligation bonds, District officials announced Thursday.

OPINION -- State Legislature Must Act to Provide Common Sense Fixes for Our Housing Crisis
August 6, 2020 -- Clearly, current policy is plagued with loopholes that limit new housing construction. We need to ask ourselves: “What are we really trying to protect by artificially limiting housing stock?”

Santa Monica to Crack Down of Face Mask Violators
August 6, 2020 -- The City of Santa Monica issued a warning Wednesday that it will begin enforcing its face covering order this week, with those in violation facing an initial fine of $100. The enforcement efforts will take place in business districts and parks.

Malibu Seeks Stimulus Funding for Electric Cars
August 5, 2020 -- Santa Monica has long been a champion of converting its City fleet to electric vehicles, but this week Malibu outdid its southern neighbor's lobbying efforts to reach that goal.

Santa Monica Voters to Decide Fate of Two Ballot Measures
August 4, 2020 -- Local voters will decide whether to boost Santa Monica's luxury real estate tax to help fund municipal services and amend the City Charter to help diversify its workforce.

LETTERS -- Does Our Council Really Hear Us?
August 4, 2020 -- Have we as residents who have a vested interest in our City become irrelevant? The answer may be found in the public input on "The Plaza." Here is a breakdown of who weighed in.

City Warns of Coronavirus Tracing Scams
August 4, 2020 -- As Los Angeles County health officials ramp up their efforts to track those infected with COVID-19, Santa Monica City officials warn that scammers are trying to cash in.

Weekly Number of Coronavirus Cases in Santa Monica Remains Steady
August 3, 2020 -- The number of weekly coronavirus cases in Santa Monica held steady for a third straight week, as hospitalizations in Los Angeles County saw a significant drop.

Big Blue Bus to Take Another Step Promoting Cashless Future
August 3, 2020 -- The Santa Monica Big Blue Bus (BBB) is taking another step this week towards a cashless future by proposing incentives to use "contactless" alternatives to pay fares.
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